10 key statistics on mobile usage in Russia (2019)

Russian Search Marketing is back with more insights from the Global Digital Yearbook, which is compiled every year by the Hootsuite social media management platform and the We Are Social agency. Previously, we published key takeaways on internet usage in Russia and looked at trends in social media. Now we’d like to turn our attention to the current mobile landscape. Here are 10 key statistics on mobile usage in Russia for 2019:

mobile usage in Russia - general1) There are 248M mobile subscriptions in Russia, which is equivalent to 172% of the population. By comparison, the number of mobile connections in the USA is equivalent to 106% of the population. In order to understand why there are so many subscriptions, it’s helpful to note certain differences in how cellular providers operate in Russia.

One reason why subscriptions are so prevalent is that many providers charge for roaming if a user travels to a different region (oblast) within Russia. So, for example, if someone works in the Moscow region, but travels to visit family in the next region on the weekends, they will likely buy two SIM cards to avoid roaming charges.

2) The number of mobile social media users increased by 2M between Jan ’18 and Jan ’19. In the US, there was no increase during that same period.

usage of mobile phones in Russia - other devices3) 97% of the adult population in Russia use a mobile phone and 61% use a smartphone specifically. More Russians now use mobile phones than desktop computers (at 68%), or televisions (at 92%).

4) 77% of mobile connections are pre-paid (as opposed to only 22% in the USA). Phones are not typically “locked” to specific providers, and Russians are accustomed to using multiple SIM cards within the same device.

5) Russia scores high in the affordability of devices and services (with a score of 78.48 out of a possible 100). The USA is slightly less affordable, with a score of 72.86.

6) Russia scores 50.41 out of 100 for mobile network infrastructure (as opposed to 73.23 in the USA). 74% of mobile connections in Russia are broadband (i.e. 3G or 4G) as opposed to 93% in the USA.

mobile usage in Russia - main activities7) Russians use their mobile phones to perform a wide variety of activities. Mobile messenging, video viewing, and gaming are three of the most common activities performed on mobile phones.

8) Russians downloaded a total of 4.79B apps (roughly 1/3rd of US downloads) during 2018 and spent $751.8M on them.

9) Of the top 10 apps ranked by monthly active users, 5 were developed by Russian companies, and 5 by foreign companies. The Russian contingent includes the leading social networks VK and OK.ru, as well as the Russian bank Sberbank, and the Yandex search and Yandex.Browser apps.

app usage in Russia - main apps

mobile usage in Russia - apps by revenue











10)  The top 10 apps by revenue consist of popular social apps, as well as apps for listening to music, reading, dating, and streaming films. Readers less familiar with the Russian market will find it surprising that the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps don’t make it into the top 10, despite ranking #1 and #2 respectively in the USA.


The mobile infrastructure in Russia is quite highly developed and the vast majority of the population (97%) now owns a mobile phone. Russians use their phones to perform many of the same functions that American users do, but there are several key differences that anyone attempting to reach the Russian market should note.

As we’ve pointed out previously in our report on social media use, the most popular social apps in Russia — VK and OK.ru — do not number among the Silicon Valley stalwarts that one might expect.  And one glance at the revenue chart for mobile apps shows that Russians still seem to be living up to their Soviet-era reputation as avid readers.

For users interested in placing ads on mobile apps in Russia, Yandex offers mobile ads. Contact eng-ad@yandex-team.ru for more information.